What are some typical risks / challenges in an Agile journey?

The following are some common challenges that every team and organization embarking on an Agile transformation journey

  • Expectation of complete support from leadership even before the program starts : gain their support through results
    • While there are cases where the Agile adoption programs have been launched and actively supported by CEOs, the impact would be better to take up small pilots and show results
    • That can be the basis for a wider adoption or rollout
    • The pioneering teams have a significant contribution to make, by being self organized and taking ownership to resolve impediments across organization boundaries, they can set an example to others
  • Using the leadership as a ‘whip’ to get everyone to comply
    • This is an anti-pattern seen when the Agile transformation is taken up as another compliance target and pushed by one team, that should ideally be enabling project teams to internalize Agile principles and apply them in their project context
  • Not involving some of the stakeholders actively
    • Or, giving up on stakeholders that may be lukewarm or indifferent when such initiatives start. The key is to profusely communicate and include them in the co-creation and co-adoption of practices that can demonstrate early flow of value to stakeholders
  • Inadequate facilitation / coaching of teams
    • While training sessions help, many times teams get doubts in terms of role clarity, how to make their engineering and governance practices more effective, increasing team trust across the board etc.Having a sounding board and a guide in the form of a coach helps immensely.
    • The coach can be an internal person, preferably one who is not directly involved in the project or in the line of reporting for the project, to avoid potential concerns of team members to speak up
  • Stakeholder perception management / inadequate communication of progress
    • This is related to the earlier point on involving stakeholders. In addition to that, the perceptions of stakeholders also has to be managed, so that they understand, on a regular basis, the progress and challenges of the team
  • Not celebrating successes
    • This is also overlooked by many teams. This is one of the good practices to keep up the team’s confidence and apply the principle of maintaining a steady pace through the project.
    • The celebrations can be simple reinforcements that can happen as close to a milestone achievement. This will also encourage team members acknowledge the support from each other
    • For significant milestones – such as a release that is on time and defect free – there could be larger celebrations including the Product Owner

Have you faced any of these or other challenges?

How did you overcome them?

What do you think?

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